Holiday Foods for the Cholesterol-Conscious
Watching your cholesterol level needn't take the fun out of holiday feasts.
Vegetables: The Simpler, the Better
Green bean casserole smothered in sour cream or cream of mushroom soup and shoestring potatoes may be a family tradition, but it carries a hefty fat price tag. Steam green beans without the toppings instead, experts suggest.
When it comes to vegetables, "the least prepared a food is, the better," Moloo says.
Or turn to a wintry vegetable such as roasted butternut squash, Zelman suggests. "Simple, roasted, not in a casserole," she says. Unless you made a casserole yourself, it's a mystery what's in it, she says. You have no idea the total fat grams or cholesterol.
Another good choice: roasted sweet potatoes, maybe with a dollop of melted marshmallows, but no butter, Zelman suggests.
Pies tend to be very high in fat due to their crusts, Moloo says. A slice of pumpkin pie -- one-eighth of a 9-inch pie -- has 316 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 65 milligrams of cholesterol. A slice of pecan pie weighs in at 503 calories, 27 grams of fat (but only 5 of it saturated), and 106 milligrams of cholesterol.
You could leave the crust behind, saving a lot of fat grams.
If you're the cook, make simple substitutions to recipes, such as making a graham cracker crust with a bit of margarine instead of a higher-fat pastry crust, Thayer says.
You can also consider a crustless pie.
Or you could turn to desserts such as sorbet; fruit with raspberry sauce or low-fat ice cream; or fresh fruit over angel food cake -- all low in fat, Moloo says.
Start the Day Right
No one's perfect during holiday feasts, but you can offset some damage by eating the right breakfast, Zelman suggests. "Start your day with oatmeal," she says. "Put in nuts and raisins. It's a great cholesterol-lowering attempt for the day."
A 3-ounce serving has 307 calories, 5 milligrams of fat, and no cholesterol.
You may feel so virtuous after the oatmeal breakfast that it will be easy the rest of the day and night to pick wisely -- and enjoy.